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Monday, April 4, 2011

E-Marketing for Artists 101

(UPDATE! I gave this blog entry as a panel at this year's DragonCon! 
Check out the recording of my panel and Powerpoint presentation on YouTube.)

This week I wanted to share an article I wrote for the new fantasy magazine, Dark Muse: Issue 2! You should go check out the mag for more useful articles on everything from creating knotwork to podcast interviews with other working artists.

I hope to make this e-marketing topic a series of blogs on the matter, as it's one of my passions!

E-Marketing for Artists 101 

Have you been ignoring the hullaballoo of that loud, annoying place called the internet? Tsk! Nowadays, artists of every possible subject matter, style, and media can find a niche in the massive audience that is the world wide web, making it an invaluable tool for artists. This is especially useful for those of us who work in very niche genres!

In particular, social media (or social networks) are a great way to quickly update your fans and to connect with other artists. Connecting with other artists can be especially motivating when we find ourselves alone in the art cave craving human interaction! Here are a few of my favorite sites which I've noticed the best results and that have also shown a significant presence of participating artists. These descriptions are based on my personal interaction on these sites, meaning that things may work differently for you based on your own preferences!

One must also remember that the key to social networking is to be social. Spamming your work and then leaving without interacting with anyone else is a recipe for fail on just about any social networking site (unless you're just already that popular!). Social networks are not to be confused with specific online communities dedicated to artists, as opposed to social networks whose general purpose is socialization between all types of people. A rundown of handy art communities will be covered in a future article!

Twitter - http://twitter.com

You have 140 characters a post to say something meaningful, this short length making posts quick and easy to digest. Twitter lets you Follow others so that you can instantly see their posts, allowing you to keep a finger on the pulse of other artists and communities without the total distraction of instant messaging.

I don't have the guilt of leaving Twitter conversations as much as I do if I have a popup message from a friend on an instant messaging system, which makes Twitter a nice compromise for those of us who may want to chat with others without getting completely buried by instant message windows. The only danger of this is how easy it can be to become addicted to checking Tweets! But that's something to do while we're waiting for paint layers to dry, isn't it? I'd like to think so!

There are also hash tags (words that are demarcated by a # symbol) you can include in your posts which allow others to search by that topic, which allows artists to find other artists by topic. For example, some of the more popular art-related tags are #fridaynightartdorks and #wip. Start your own hash tag trend, share interesting links, and keep in touch with others instantly!


I love this site for the way that it helps me interact person-to-person in conversation with others in my field. I feel like I know these people and have already met a few of them at cons based on the fact we've chatted on Twitter beforehand!

As an example of Twitter's amazing powers, besides helping to lead revolutions in other countries, I remember a past convention where I had aboslutely no artists to help me out with a panel where I needed folks to paint for charity. I posted on Twitter for help and word circulated through this digital grapevine, until I had more than enough volunteers to help my panel succeed!

To add butter to your toast, Twitter allows you a profile to add a link to your website and talk about your interests. What you list on your profile and who you Follow also fuels Twitter's intuitive Suggested Follows system, which will automatically suggest other artists for you to Follow based on who you are already Following and their interests.

All in all, it's my favorite way to discover new artists and interact online! You can also link your Twitter and Facebook accounts to mirror your posts, which leaves you more time for creating work instead of yacking on the computer.

Read on at Tweetable Art: 10 Twitter Tips for Artists for more great info!
http://mashable.com/2009/02/23/twitter-artists/

Facebook - http://facebook.com

I know people tend to hiss when they think of the inanity of Facebook, but I have to admit it's become a central driving force in my business! I have a fan page where my fans can keep in touch with me directly, upload fan photos, and keep up with my studio announcements of new products and the like. I can also upload videos and photo albums here, making it the next best thing for those of us who may not have the resources to host our own websites yet!

Facebook gets pretty high rankings in search engines and fan pages also do not require fans to login to see your info, as you would with a personal Facebook account. It's a great place to start your marketing efforts that is fairly easy to manage on your own. If you cannot manage it on your own, there's also the ability to add multiple admins to your fan page.

You can read more about the differences between a fan page, a group, and a personal account at my article on the matter:
http://blog.angelicshades.com/2010/10/facebook-profile-vs-fan-page-vs-group.html?spref=tw

Blogspot (aka. Blogger) - http://blogspot.com

This is a great free site which lets you start your own blog, or online journal, where people can easily follow you if they have a Google, Yahoo, or RSS Reader. I keep up with many artist friends this way as well as professional communities where I can stay informed of events going on in my industry. Most artists keep journals to share their works-in-progress, chat about their inspirations, and share advice.

Another great advantage of having your own blog is that if your website isn't updated regularly with new work (because you're a slower paced worker like me), the blog can be a way to have a consistent source of new material to keep people coming back to check on you. Don't want people to forget you exist, do you?

There are many online blog formats, but I've personally found Blogger to be the easiest to maintain with a vast network of connections throughout the web. If you don't like that blogspot name in your url, there's also a function to replace it with your professional domain name.

Check out these useful blogs on Blogger:

http://artorder.blogspot.com - Ran by Jon Schindehette, an art director with Wizards of the Coast (the makers of Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, to name a few). As an art director, Jon shares his opinions on what he looks for when hiring artists, what artists need to learn when they're breaking into the business, amongst other nuggets of wisdom! This blog also features interviews with working artists with even more insight into the business. If that wasn't enough to make you tune in, ArtOrder runs Challenges where you are given a hypothetical assignment, entries to be judged by various art directors. It's a great way to get your foot in the door!

http://muddycolors.blogspot.com - Maintained by a few of the industry's leading artists (Donato Giancola and Dan Dos Santos, to name a few!) This is the blog to watch for advice from the pros, glimpses into processes, and other useful bits of info! The cast of artists is shuffled up from time to time to make sure there's always fresh blood and enthusiasm on this blog.

For more info on why blogging can help your career, check out this useful article on "Why Artists Should Blog" by artist, Kirsty Hall:
http://kirstyhall.co.uk/2007/08/22/why-artists-should-blog/

Angela's Shameless Plugging
If you're curious about how I've set myself up on these networks, check out my social media links!

Angela's Facebook Fan Page - http://www.facebook.com/AngelicShadesStudio
Angela's Blog on Blogspot - http://blog.angelicshades.com

In the years I've been building my art business, these particular sites have been the most helpful for me. Have you found other social networks that have proved invaluable as an artist or creative professional? Share your experiences with us in the comments section!